We have received a press release about the future of the Media Space project - the National Media Museum part of the Science Museum in London. The headlines are:
- It will open June 2013.
- The space 'will showcase the National Photography Collection from the National Media Museum and use this as a starting point to explore, exhibit and discuss works by contemporary artists across a variety of disciplines.'
- The First Exhibition will be Revelations: Experiments in Photography, and 'will explore contemporary artists’ responses to scientific photography from 1850 to 1920'.
- The exhibition will be ticketed at £6.00
The show will include work by Sarah Pickering, Clare Strand, and Hiroshi Sugimoto as well as historical work and is curated by Greg Hobson, (Curator of Photographs at the National Media Museum) and Ben Burbridge (co-editor of Photoworks). For those with long memories it is suggestive of the exhibition Revisions curated by Ian Jeffrey that was staged after the re-opening of the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (as it then was) in 1999.
The project has had a troubled development with problems raising funding and the resignation of Creative Director Charlotte Cotton. I spoke to Eleanor Macnair, the Press Officer for the project. She says they have now secured the £4 million capital costs required to fit out the space but cannot confirm how they will raise income for the running costs of the exhibition programme. She says they anticipate visitor numbers of 80-100,000 for the first show [correction 23/11: this is 'the number of visitors we anticipate in the first year as a whole for the two major exhibitions and the two smaller exhibitions in the Studio Space combined'] (which will run June - September 2013) but does not say if this - with its £6 admission fee - will cover the space's running costs. (See also story about photography philanthropy in the current issue).
The emphasis in the programme is on photography exhibitions. Macnair says 'the exhibitions for the first three years will be based on the collection in Bradford'. This is different from the emphasis in Charlotte Cotton's vision for the Media Space, 'Our mandate is not just about photography. It's about photography, film, television, radio and the web.' . There has not been an appointment to replace Cotton's role but Hannah Redler is now the 'Head of Media Space and Science Museum Arts Programme' a role that encompasses the curation of Media Space. There have also been recent appointments of an Associate Curator and Collections Officer. Macnair explains that Cotton's role 'was the development of the project... the strategy has changed but lots of the exhibitions come from the seeds of Charlotte's thoughts'.